Siding Nailer vs. Roofing Nailer: Which is best for me?

Comparing them side by side, it may not be easy to distinguish between a siding nailer and a roofing nailer. The two nail guns look similar, and they perform the same purpose of driving nails into surfaces. That begs the question. Can you use them interchangeably? or Can I use a roofing nailer for siding?


Since roofing nailers are cheaper than siding nail guns, one would prefer to buy a roofing nailer for siding. But these are entirely different tools, and they drive different fasteners, so you cannot use them interchangeably.

Typically each nail gun is named after the job they perform. Roofing nailers are used for roofing jobs such as installing shingles, asphalt shingles, roofing felting, among other roofing tasks. On the other hand, a siding nailer is designed for installing siding.

Let’s have a deep comparison of siding nailer vs. roofing nailer and determine the best option for you.

Siding Nailer Explained

As we stated, it can be challenging to tell a siding apart from a roofing nailer since they look similar physically. They also operate in the same way, but the primary difference lies in the type of fasteners they drive.

What is a siding nailer used for?

A siding nailer is primarily used to install siding or joining pieces of wood efficiently. Siding nailers are relatively longer (1-1/4″ – 2-1/2″) than those used in a roofing nailer. They also have narrower heads since they are not meant to be removed often.

A siding nailer is designed to shoot nails softly, which is especially helpful when nailing softwood. It is similar to a roofing nailer, but it shoots nails more accurately and without the overwhelming power that is associated with the latter. A siding nailer is ideal for joining wood, rubber domes, vinyl, among delicate workpieces.

Features of a siding nailer

Coil nails

Siding nails often come in long coils that are held together (collated) by a metal wire or plastic ribbon to save refilling time. The nails are set at a 15 degrees feeding angle to provide a smooth finish. The coil is fitted into the magazine, where they feed automatically. The capacity of the magazine will vary depending on the nail size and the model.

In most nailing jobs, the materials require you to install a nail flush with the surface. But for siding, you may want to leave a small gap between the material and the head of the nail to create space for expansion and contraction of siding. Otherwise, your surface would develop some cracks.

Depth adjustment

Siding nailers feature an adjustable depth control to allow you to alter how far the nails are driven, usually up to 2-1/2″. This is important for several reasons. First off, it allows you to use nails of different lengths. Secondly, it lets the operator adjust the firing pressure depending on the siding materials you’re using i.e., wood, concrete, vinyl, and more. Using a fixed depth will limit you from using the same gun on different materials.

Lock system

Most siding nailers are equipped with a trigger lock system to ensure a safe operation. The lock helps unwanted firing as well as to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, most siding nailers feature an air filter that eliminates dust and debris accumulation.

Drawbacks of siding nail guns

  • A siding nailer is not a versatile option- it is only ideal for installing siding
  • Also, a soft surface is needed to get the desired results
  • They are also pretty expensive

Roofing Nailer Overview

A roofing nailer is a heavy-duty nail gun specially designed to drive roofing and re-roofing materials. And since roofing nailers use shorter nails, they tend to attract a smaller price tag than their siding counterparts. Also, if you need to re-roof, removing the nails is easily done with a roofing nailer because it is designed for heavy-duty use.

What are the features of a roofing nailer?

Lightweight design

For a roofing nailer, the ergonomics side of the equation is paramount, considering that securing shingles is an all-day job. Also, you may need to use the tool for multiple tasks, so the weight of a roofing nailer is a critical consideration.

Additionally, the need to pick and hold heavy materials adds to the fatigue, and that’s why you need to choose a tool that does not add to the weight. For these obvious reasons, most manufacturers design their products with aluminum or plastic bodies to make the nailer as light as possible.

Designed to punch through hard materials

Unlike siding nailer, which is designed to drive nails through soft materials, a roofing nailer is built to punch nails through hard materials such as asphalt shingles. It is designed for more complex tasks that would prove difficult to perform with a siding nailer. Additionally, the nails are installed flush to hold the materials flush to your roof.

Smaller nails

Since most roofing materials and shingles are thin, they only need short nails to install. As such, roofing fasteners are shorter than siding nails, often no longer than ¾ inches. Additionally, since roofing fasteners often need replacement, they are designed with larger heads for easier removal.

Drawbacks of roofing nailers

  • It is designed to work with short roofing nails only- larger nails will not fit the nailer
  • They tend to jam frequently due to the nature of their job

Also Read: Different Types of Nailers and their Uses

Roofing nailer vs. Siding nailer-Who is the winner?

The variation in price between a siding and roofing nailer is probably the most appealing difference that would make one go for a roofing nailer instead of a siding nailer. However, it is important to emphasize that the two perform different tasks, and you can’t use a roofing nailer for siding and vice versa. If you’re installing a roof, you may want to go with a roofing nailer. On the other hand, for installing siding, a siding nailer is the best option. The main difference between the two tools is the nails, so it is important to ensure you are using the right fasteners and the right tool for the job.

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